Papers on the Ethics of Administration
The recent, well-published cases of unethical behavior on the part of top-level executives in business as well as in government have given impetus to an increasing national concern with organizational or administrative ethics. Indeed, ethics has become the crucial focus in the study of administration. As one of the contributors to this work states: American management has lost its soul. Corrupt and barbaric managerial practices reported in the press and on television have eroded the public's confidence in management leadership legitimacy.
In this volume, ten scholars attack the issues of administrative ethics in ways they think are most important. Interestingly, most all of the essays return to the familiar theme that organizational ethics is dependent on personal ethics. In other words, we must become better people if we are to have better organizational governance. Good systems do not produce good people: rather good people produce good systems.
The essays in this collection describe a variety of ideas about how contemporary management can incorporate ideas like personal integrity, mutual trust, and true concern for others as the basis of organizational life. In particular, they acknowledge that ethics, as a discipline, is changing. There is a growing rejection of the attempt to justify all in terms of some version of science. There is rather a return to the systematic thought of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle and to the work of the philosophers of the late Middle Ages. Answers to the problems of the ethics of administration will be found as we struggle—as the Founding Fathers did—with the classic and eternal issues of human morality in action.
Norman E. Bowie is the Director of the Center for the Study of Values and a Professor of Philosophy and Business Administration at the University of Delaware.